Directions: After reviewing the Argument Essay Assignment Overview, select a topic you’d like to research and ultimately write about. 

Sample topics & their potential research questions (your end result): 

Example Topics  Research Question
Equality & Equity What are the benefits to everyone being equal? What are the drawbacks? Should everyone be equal?
Human Nature

Are all humans capable of violence and cruelty? 

Are humans fundamentally good or evil?

Human Nature Without rules and laws, would humans be able to self-monitor their behavior? 
Government & Free Will To what degree (if any) does society need government intervention, particularly as it relates to personal lives/choices?


Which topic will you explore?  
Why have you selected this topic? Why do you find it personally interesting? How is it relevant to dystopian societies?  

4-5 questions* you have about this topic to guide your research

(These should not be questions you already know the answer to) 

Turn your topic into a research question (Instruction: next page)






Turning Your Topic into a Research Question


1. Start with your Broad Topic

A broad description of what you will investigate, stated as a phrase


Marital/Relationship Status

2. Narrow Focus to Subtopic

Your broad topic restated as a more specific, narrow topic—but not so narrow it is impossible to research


External views on the legitimacy of a relationship based on marital or nonmarital status

3. From Subtopic to Questions: Turning Your Topic into a Research Question

Context Questions

These questions look at the origins or motives of your topic.

  • Why am I looking at this topic?
  • What did people do before?
  • What might be the next phase of my topic in the future?

History of Your Topic

These questions examine the way your topic and people’s thoughts/feelings about it have changed over time & why.

  • How has this topic changed over time?
  • Why did your topic come into being?
  • How have people’s attitudes toward this subject changed over time and why?

Structure & Composition

These questions examine your topic within the larger picture or system related to it.

  • How does your topic fit into the larger category / broad topic?
  • How does this topic reflect or connect to the values, ideals or traditions of society?

Categories / Organization

These questions ask about how your topic is organized (types, stages, similarities and differences).

  • How can you best organize your topic (into types, categories, processes, etc.)?
  • How does your topic compare and contrast with other topics like it?

Alternative Perspectives

These questions examine your topic from other, usually opposing, angles.

  • What do people who oppose a particular view or conventional thinking say?
  • What alternative views are there? What would critics say?
  • What if…? (Ask a few speculative questions about your topic)

“So What?” “Who Cares?”

This step is designed to determine why your question is important (So what?) and whether your question would interest others (Who cares?)

1. I am learning about _________

2. because I want to find out ____________

3. in order to help my reader understand that ___________

My Research Question

This is the question you are trying to answer as you read and write about your topic. It may very well change, but for now it serves as a guide when reading and writing.


  • Topic: legal recognition of non-married, long-term partners
  • Research Question: Should California offer a Common Law option to provide legal legitimacy for non-married romantic partners?


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